There is a lot of backstory to my food addiction, some of which I may share and some I won’t share.
However, I sat on this beautiful winter’s day and I could feel God saying to me “It’s time to share your story” I jumped up out of bed and wrote. I hope that someone finds solace in this, the courage to make a radical change in their life and if necessary seek treatment.
I want to share this with you so that I can take full responsibility for my own actions.
I have always been an over-achiever. I remember the saying ‘give the busy person the task because it will get done’. It started in high school when I was in charge of collecting toys for Christmas gift drives, doing a ton of extra-circular activities whilst working and maintaining a full load of study. This mentality and over-commitment transpired into all of my times at university whilst always wanting to top the class. Did I mention I topped the class over 3 times in my accelerated nursing degree? (exactly, it doesn’t really matter, but it did to me!)
There were times when my food addiction was dormant, or at least not all consuming.
After I had my daughter, we struggled deeply with breastfeeding. In fact, I don’t think I ever hae struggled with much of anything in my life (other then weight, but even that I had lost 100lbs+f from 17-24yrs and kept it off mostly). Looking back I was teetering with adrenal burn out due to shift work and night shifts leading up to having my daughter. But the pain and lack of perceived achievement with breast feeding was, in my opinion the first time I had really not been able to accomplish something I had set out to do that had really deep meaning to me. I binged.
When Ainslie as 6 months, I started up my network marketing business. It was the PERFECT blend for an over-achiever, who thrives on outward accolade for going hard and going big & praise for constant re-invention. It appeased the little girl in me who wanted people to tell her that she was worthy, for the ego in me who wanted to be the best and the competitive person in me who liked a challenge.
When I first started the amazement and accolade (and jealousy) was showered on me. I loved the accolade and was troubled by the back lash…so I binged. What I was creating, how many people I was enrolling, how many classes (I did 50 in one month) and the way in which I was rank advancing. I was asked to speak at corporate events, group events, online webinars. I was everywhere.
The part of my brain that always needed affirmation was in overdrive. Lapping it all up. Watching and feeling the spotlight get brighter. The deep desire to flood my brain with the accolades of others and it sufficed my need to be heard, seen, loved, adored, praised. It is the perfect cocktail.
Then, I got tired. Really tired. But I was overcommitted. The anxiety and exhaustion crept in. The only way I was surviving was drinking 4-6 cups of coffee a day and eating. Eating and eating. Eating the stuff that would flood by dopamine receptors in my brain to ease the constant state of overwhelm, exhaustion. burn-out and perfectionism that was creeping in so deeply.
I knew all of the stuff that I needed to be doing. I spent THOUSANDS of dollars on naturopaths and doctors. Trying to sort out why I felt so depleted and exhausted and anxious and inflamed and bloated and overweight.
I would eat huge meals, then big bowls of ice cream. I would polish off a family sized Cadbury chocolate bar in 20 minutes shovelling my anxiety into a different place, if only for that 20 minutes. The only 20 minutes of mental rest I got. I would obsessively listen to podcasts, when I actually did do exercise, and would try and get up a 4:30am to exercise because I was too busy for self-care.
I became desperately afraid of who I was, and instead hid behind my work. MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE…YES YES YES YES YES! Until I ballooned. Until I became so desperate that I would start dieting again. Restricting my addictive mind from the foods which it craved, the food which I was spiritually, chemically and mentally addicted to.
In those quick moments and desperate attempts at ‘dieting’ I would lash out at my husband, starving my mind, but really detoxing from my drug of choice food. I would berate him for not have more sex with me, because obviously I was so fat, why would be want to touch me. I would shovel all of my shit on him and make it about him…when really it was about me.
I would then rebound with a massive binge. Sob for hours sometimes, wither even further into the hell of addiction…and go back to work. Work became my solace. It was the shinning light which kept me going, but the relationship which I has with it was driving my addiction even further.
At the end of 2016, I was in full blown food addition, whilst outwardly still succeeding in my business. It was growing, people knew who I was, I was building each month over the month before. I didn’t have to go back to work, I was soaring.
Yet I was the unhealthiest I had been since I was 17. I was lonely, starving, bursting at the seams, buying new clothes in the next size up every 6 months. My wardrobe has changed to black and I was at my lowest. I realised, in the moment that I was an addict, but had no idea what to do. Read a book, try this approach to food…it just wasn’t enough…I needed a massive intervention.
“How could someone, who have 2 master’s degrees, a successful business and all the knowledge about natural health…have a full blown food addiction?”
I sucked it up and booked in with my family GP. I sat in the chair and sobbed my eyes out. “I’m addicted to food and I need to change my life, now”
If you you feel as though you’d like support with any form of eating disorder and/or addiction please seek help from medical professionals and qualified mental health professionals. In Australia please reach out to Head Space, National Eating Disorders Collaborative, Binge Eating Disorder Association